What is Hand Arthritis? Understanding Symptoms & Treatment

If you experience pain, stiffness, or swelling in your hands, you may be suffering from hand arthritis. It is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide and can have a significant impact on daily activities.

What is Hand Arthritis is a type of arthritis that affects the joints in the hands, causing pain, stiffness, and swelling. It can develop as a result of wear and tear on the joints, an injury, or an autoimmune disorder.

Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for managing hand arthritis and preventing further joint damage. In this article, we will discuss the different types of hand arthritis, their symptoms, the diagnostic process, and the available treatment options.

Key Takeaways:

  • Hand arthritis is a type of arthritis that affects the joints in the hands, causing pain, stiffness, and swelling.
  • Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for managing hand arthritis and preventing further joint damage.
  • In this article, we will discuss the different types of hand arthritis, their symptoms, the diagnostic process, and the available treatment options.

Types of Hand Arthritis and their Symptoms

what is hand arthritis

Hand arthritis can be caused by various types of arthritis, affecting the joints in different ways. Here are the three main types of hand arthritis:

Type of Hand Arthritis Cause Symptoms
Hand osteoarthritis Wear and tear on the cartilage in the joints Joint pain, stiffness, swelling, decreased range of motion, bony growths in the joints
Rheumatoid arthritis An autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks its own joints and tissues Joint pain, stiffness, swelling, decreased range of motion, fatigue, fever, weight loss
Psoriatic arthritis An autoimmune disorder that occurs in individuals with psoriasis Joint pain, stiffness, swelling, decreased range of motion, skin lesions

“It’s important to keep in mind that each person’s experience with hand arthritis symptoms may vary, depending on the type and severity of their arthritis.”

Individuals with hand arthritis may experience mild to severe symptoms, impacting their daily activities. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, it’s important to talk to your healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Diagnosing Hand Arthritis

Diagnosing hand arthritis involves a comprehensive evaluation of an individual’s medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic imaging.

During the medical history assessment, a healthcare professional will ask about any previous hand injuries, family history of arthritis, and any other medical conditions that may contribute to hand arthritis.

The physical examination will involve the healthcare professional assessing the individual’s hands, checking for joint tenderness, swelling, and stiffness. They may also assess hand grip strength, range of motion, and overall hand function.

Diagnostic imaging tests, such as X-rays and MRI scans, are commonly used to confirm a diagnosis of hand arthritis. These tests can reveal joint damage and the extent of joint degeneration. In some cases, joint fluid analysis may also be necessary to confirm the presence of arthritis.

It is important to seek medical attention if you are experiencing hand pain, stiffness, swelling, or other symptoms, as early diagnosis and treatment can help manage symptoms and prevent further joint damage.

Treatment Options for Hand Arthritis

There are a variety of treatment options available for individuals with hand arthritis. The best course of treatment will vary based on the individual’s specific symptoms and medical history. Here are some of the most common treatment options for managing hand arthritis:

Pain Management

Pain management is often an important component of treating hand arthritis. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, can be effective in reducing pain and inflammation. Prescription medications, such as corticosteroids and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), may also be recommended in some cases.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can be helpful in managing hand arthritis symptoms and improving hand mobility and strength. A physical therapist can teach specific exercises and stretching techniques to help keep the joints in the hands mobile and reduce stiffness. Additionally, they can recommend assistive devices, such as splints, to help support the hands and reduce pain.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy focuses on helping individuals with hand arthritis maintain their ability to perform daily tasks. An occupational therapist can provide guidance on adaptive techniques and assistive devices that can make tasks easier to perform, such as using specialized kitchen utensils or modifying computer equipment. They can also recommend modifications to the individual’s work environment, if necessary.


In some cases, surgery may be recommended to manage hand arthritis symptoms. Joint replacement surgery, in which the damaged joint is replaced with an artificial joint, can be an effective option for reducing pain and improving hand function. However, surgery is generally considered a last resort when other treatment options have been unsuccessful.

It’s important to work closely with a healthcare professional to develop a customized treatment plan for managing hand arthritis symptoms. With the right treatment plan, individuals with hand arthritis can reduce pain, improve hand mobility, and maintain their quality of life.

Treatment Options for Hand Arthritis

Managing hand arthritis symptoms can be challenging, but there are several treatment options available. The goal of treatment is to reduce pain, inflammation, and stiffness, and to improve hand mobility and strength. Here are some common treatment options:

Pain Management Techniques:

Over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can provide relief from hand arthritis pain. Your doctor may prescribe stronger medications if necessary.

Physical Therapy:

A physical therapist can design exercises to improve hand strength, dexterity, and flexibility, as well as reduce pain and inflammation. They may also recommend using heat or cold therapy to manage symptoms.

Occupational Therapy:

An occupational therapist can help you learn ways to perform daily activities with less pain and strain on your hands. They may recommend assistive devices such as splints or adaptive equipment to make tasks easier.


If over-the-counter pain medications are not effective, your doctor may prescribe stronger medications like corticosteroids or disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). These medications can help reduce inflammation and slow joint damage.

Splints and Assistive Devices:

Splints can help support and stabilize the joints in your hands, reducing pain and inflammation. Assistive devices such as jar openers, buttonhooks, and zipper pulls can help with daily tasks that can be difficult with hand arthritis.

what is hand arthritis

It’s important to work with your healthcare provider to determine the best treatment approach for your specific needs. With the right treatment, you can manage hand arthritis symptoms and maintain an active, fulfilling lifestyle.


Q: What is hand arthritis?

A: Hand arthritis refers to the inflammation and degeneration of the joints in the hands, leading to symptoms such as pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion.

Q: What are the common symptoms of hand arthritis?

A: Common symptoms of hand arthritis include joint pain, stiffness, swelling, and difficulty in performing everyday tasks that require hand mobility and strength.

Q: How is hand arthritis diagnosed?

A: Hand arthritis is diagnosed through a thorough medical history and physical examination, along with imaging tests such as X-rays and MRI scans.

Q: What are the treatment options for hand arthritis?

A: Treatment options for hand arthritis include pain management techniques like medication and physical therapy, as well as the use of splints and assistive devices to support hand function and reduce symptoms.

Q: Why is early diagnosis and treatment important for hand arthritis?

A: Early diagnosis and treatment of hand arthritis can help prevent further joint damage, manage symptoms effectively, and improve overall quality of life for individuals with the condition.

Jillian Hunt is a strong and inspiring individual who has been living with arthritis for over a decade. Despite the challenges she faces, she’s determined to find ways to manage her condition and improve her quality of life. She’s also an advocate for others who face similar challenges, sharing her insights on various forums.

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Arthritis Treatment Lab is a blog dedicated to providing information and resources on various treatment options for arthritis. From traditional approaches such as medication and physical therapy, to alternative therapies like acupuncture and herbal remedies, we strive to educate and empower individuals who are living with this condition. Our articles cover the latest research findings, practical tips for managing symptoms, and personal stories from people who have successfully overcome arthritis. Whether you are newly diagnosed or a long-time sufferer, Arthritis Treatment Lab is here to support you on your journey towards better health.